Deficit Reduction and the Courts
The Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, P.L. 112-25, provided a blueprint to reduce the federal deficit by over $2 trillion by the year 2021. Unpopular and politically contentious since its passage, the act resulted in across-the-board budget cuts in 2013, followed by reductions to the annual caps on discretionary spending (as well as automatic cuts to selected entitlement programs) in each year from 2014 through 2021. The law provides that failure to adhere to the budget caps in any designated year will trigger another across-the-board sequestration.
In FY 2013, sequestration reduced non-defense discretionary spending by five percent. The judiciary, like every other component of government, was subject to the mandatory sequestration, resulting in a $350 million funding cut, which constrained court operations nationwide. Throughout the year, budget negotiations continued to be contentious and resulted in a 16-day government shut-down. Congress finally resolved the budget battle for a short while by overriding the Budget Control Act and passing a two-year budget deal (P.L. 113-67) that significantly raised the discretionary spending caps for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. The judiciary benefitted both years.
A contentious year of budget negotiations that included a 16-day government shut-down culminated in Congress overriding the Budget Control Act and passing a two-year budget deal (P.L. 113-67) that significantly raised the discretionary spending budget caps for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. The judiciary benefitted both years.
In FY 2014, Congress restored the judiciary’s discretionary funding to its pre-sequestration level of $6.516 billion.
In FY 2015, Congress provided $6.7 billion in discretionary funding for the judiciary, a 2.8 percent increase over the prior year.
- Additional information on deficit reduction and FY 2013–2015 funding is available here.